TORONTO -- The San Jose Sharks helped their pursuit of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.
The Sharks (35-28-8) ended a two-game losing streak after opening a seven-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
"We'll get to play a lot of hockey on this trip and we're pretty excited about that," San Jose forward Joe Pavelski said. "Obviously we wanted to win that first game on the road trip and that didn't happen for us, but to rebound and get a win here, hopefully we can build on that."
San Jose trails Winnipeg by six points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Jets defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in a shootout Thursday.
"You can't look too far ahead and you definitely can't look behind you," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "You've got to stay in the moment and enjoy this for a while, but then get ready for the next game. You keep things in 24-hour segments."
Thornton, who had two assists to reach 900 in the NHL, said a key to the win was the Sharks' aggressiveness.
"When we play like that we are awfully tough to play against," Thornton said. "All four lines can be aggressive and our defense can pinch. The more aggressive we are, the harder we are to play against."
San Jose took a 1-0 lead at 7:02 of the first period when Tomas Hertl accepted a pass from Chris Tierney in the slot and eluded the checking of Toronto defenseman Andrew MacWilliam to score his 12th goal of the season. It was San Jose's 10th shot on goal; Toronto had two at the time.
The Sharks outshot the Maple Leafs 21-8 in the period, and it was the 35th time this season Toronto was outscored in the first. The Maple Leafs lost 31 of those games.
Toronto center Trevor Smith was assessed a tripping penalty 55 seconds into the second period, and that enabled Logan Couture to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 2:06 when he took a pass at the side of the net and, after a quick pivot to give himself a better shooting angle, scored his 23rd goal of the season behind goalie Jonathan Bernier.
"It's nice to get a power-play goal," Couture said. "I really haven't got too many this year (five)."
Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner made it 2-1 with his third of the season at 8:54. The left-hander took a pass at the right point and had to contort his body to take a snap shot that found the low far corner of the net past goalie Antti Niemi.
The Sharks led 3-1 1:25 later when Thornton dished a pass from behind the net to Melker Karlsson in front, where he scored his 13th goal of the season.
Niemi produced the save of the game at 11:19 when he stretched to halt MacWilliam, who moved into the slot from his point position and shot toward what he thought was an empty net.
The Sharks made it 4-1 with 5.1 seconds remaining in the second period when Matt Nieto took a snap shot from the deep slot that hit teammate Tommy Wingels and fooled Bernier. It was Wingels' 15th goal of the season.
The Maple Leafs (27-39-6) have lost four in a row.
"We need an effort and we need everybody pushing," Toronto coach Peter Horachek said. "We need to have that attitude and it's just not there."
Horachek was asked if he had a reason the message is not getting through to the players, and after a pause, he shook his head and whispered, "No. I don't have an answer for that.
"We know that in 10 of the past 15 games we have been behind after the first period and have chased the game. If you don't have the courage or character to understand that is the most important thing, and to be ready to play, then there is a problem."